Urgent Need for (Yours and My) Revival


Urgent Need for (Yours and My) Revival

Recently my wife and I were watching a PBS show we had recorded. It was about all the problems of an American town, Dayton Ohio.  It was an informative and sad program. The narrator explained how Dayton was once a cutting-edge technology hub. It was an aeronautical center and a car manufacturing center. A major company, National Cash Register, had its headquarters there. But the auto plants closed, other industry moved away, and NCR moved to Texas. So the city’s population shrank, and high paying jobs disappeared. In one poor area of town where many people live, there is no longer even a food-store. 

But the coup de grace has been the opioid epidemic, a horrible and tragic scourge for much of America. In Dayton, this drug epidemic is destroying individuals and families.  An already-burdened city does not have the necessary funds to begin to dent the problem.  People are not sure what to do, but they say they need a major infusion of dollars, many more treatment centers, and insurance coverage to pay for all the necessary treatment. 

Who could disagree with any of that?

But as a person of faith, and as a pastor, I could not help but think: “Dayton (and America) also needs a divine visitation. Dayton (and America) also needs a tsunami of God’s Spirit to wash over it. Dayton also needs revival.”
Unsurprisingly, revival was not something the news show mentioned, but again it was clear to me that the city (and America) was in such a mess that only divine intervention could save it.  The national events of the last two weeks only confirm all of America’s need for revival. A former road manager for male strippers sends bombs to leading American political figures. A twisted man with a sub-machine gun commits horrible, brutal and indiscriminate murder in a Jewish temple.

And it is election time. Some Americans might imagine that certain candidates, or a certain party, can save us. I think that is wrong. I have decided to try to vote for the candidates and parties who seem kinder, gentler, and more Christ-like, but I also know that the only thing that can save us is God (through repentance and revival) not politics!

Here are two verses which warn us about merely trusting in man or woman (politics):
Jeremiah 17:5: “This is what the LORD says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD.’”
Psalm 146:3-4: “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.”

Now here is a verse which tells God’s people to repent so that their land may be healed:

II Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Who are “my people called by my name”? In spite of what some erroneously teach, the whole of scripture shows that our nation is not God’s chosen people called by his name! No nation is. Instead, the New Testament surprisingly affirms that the world-wide church (called by God from all nations) is God’s unlikely people, questionable sinners chosen by God’s sheer grace to spread his good news. You and I can be part of that family by faith!  

Do you want God to heal our land? As a Christian, I would say this to those who are interested in my thoughts: Quit focusing so much on what other people should do.  Change your life. Start with what Jesus said, “Believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1) Become active in church (which Augustine called “a hospital for sinners.”)  Don’t just go through the motions, but take this involvement with others and with God seriously as a way of seeking to truly know God and of really beginning to become a new creation. Join a small, relational group in that community of forgiven sinners.  

Also serve the world from there. Deeply humble yourself (and only after you do that—dare to begin to ask God for us to have humble leaders.) Pray dependently on God, and keep praying—heeding the inspired words of Solomon: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.”  (Psalm 127:1)

Seek God’s face, asking to know him intimately as “Abba,” Ask for God to enable you to obey Jesus’s two great commandments--summaries of Jewish scripture: “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
That is how our land will be healed. It begins with God—and you and me.

Winfield Casey Jones is a retired pastor and can be reached at wrjones2002@gmail.com. An earlier version appeared in the Pearland and Friendswood Reporter News.

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